By Sean Greene 10:02pm, January 2, 2013Elena Delle Donne hit an off-balance, 10-foot shot with .7 seconds remaining, boosting an exhausted Delaware squad to a 60-59 overtime victory at St. John's Wednesday night.
Delaware, playing their 3rd game in 5 days after winning the Dartmouth Blue Sky Classic in New Hampshire last weekend, was forced to play the game shorthanded as several Blue Hens, including Akeema Richards played with an illness reportedly circling the team.
St. John's started out red hot, forcing four early Delaware turnovers during a game-opening 14-3 run in the opening six minutes.
The next six minutes were controlled by Delaware, as the Hens countered with a 17-4 run to go up two on a Jacquetta May basket with 7:29 to go in the opening half.
From that point on, Delaware's lead at 31-24 in the second half was the only seven point advantage for either team the rest of the way.
Delaware led 27-21 late in the opening half, but St. John's Shenneika Smith nailed a three-pointer just before the buzzer to make it a three point game at intermission.
Delle Donne, who had seven points in the opening half, then took over in the final 25 minutes, scoring 22 points in the second half and overtime to finish with 29 points along with 16 rebounds.
St. John's led 51-49 with under thirty seconds left to go in regulation, but missed a free throw that Delle Donne rebounded, and then was immediately fouled. The senior calmly went to the other side to hit a pair of free throws, where she was 13-for-13 on the night, to knot the game at 51. St. John's had three shots in the lane in regulation, but all rimmed out, forcing the extra five minutes.
Delaware took a 58-53 lead two minutes into overtime following a Lauren Carra layup and foul, but Delaware came up empty on their next three possessions while St. John's went 6-for-6 at the line to take a 59-58 lead with 28 seconds left.
Tina Martin called a time out to set up the final possesion, with Delle Donne getting the ball about 25 feet from the basket at the top of the key. The All-American drove to her left while being guarded by Smith, and put up a challenged shot off the window, splashing through with under a second to go to give Delaware a critical final non-conference victory for the season.
No other Blue Hen scored in double figures, although May contributed 9 points and 9 rebounds off the bench before fouling out early in overtime. Due to the illnesses and game flow, only six Blue Hens played at least 20 minutes in the contest, with Richards only playing five as a starter before three turnovers and illness led her to the bench for the rest of the game.
Delaware has now won 4 in a row, and improves to 4-3 against Top 100 RPI teams going into conference play which begins next Thursday at home against George Mason.
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